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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Buying new car--help me not get SCREWED :P
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03/22/2008 09:12:59 PM · #1
I've only purchased a car once, and I'm thinking about buying a new car. Any suggestions before I go to the dealership? I have no one to turn to about such matters so any help would be appreciated...or links to websites for tips...Without any input, I know that I may as well bend over and lube up. Ha!

I'm looking at a Toyota FJ Cruiser 2008 Special Edition, if it matters. Thanks for your advice.
03/22/2008 09:21:01 PM · #2
Best thing to do is be informed really. Car salesman often don't get big commissions like they once did and the dealerships have certain "this is our price" numbers they have to get in order to stay in business. If you are a member of a Credit Union or something like Costco, they often can negotiate and find the best deals for you. Often dealerships add on things such as a StarGuard theft prevention system, and similar items. I would suggest you ask them not to install one on the vehicle you are buying, as the method for their installation is intrusive to the wiring and often are poorly connected electrically, causing a LOT of problems down the road. Keep an ace up your sleeve until the last moment to clinch the deal, such as when it is coming down to the wire, and you are ready to sign, agree to the sale if they toss in the oil changes/minor services up until 15/30K miles. Never hurts to ask.
03/22/2008 09:47:22 PM · #3
Be sure it comes with a nice long waranty!
03/22/2008 09:53:38 PM · #4
Don't' shop until the last few days of the month, dealerships are trying to meet numbers and are much more willing to go below what they normally would to get to their goal. Don't buy anything aftermarket, you can usually find whatever it is cheaper including extended warranties, Gap insurance, or add on items like DVD players. Get you own financing! Most states allow dealers to add points on your rate for their own profit without having to disclose that they did, this can't happen if you go in with your own approval from a Credit union or bank. Don't let them just discuss the payment amount, this is a common way to get you to a comfortable payment and then you don't care what the final price, establish total cost of the car then discuss payment. Good luck and remember, you are in control, not them. Trevor~
03/23/2008 12:47:03 AM · #5
Originally posted by trevytrev:

Don't' shop until the last few days of the month, dealerships are trying to meet numbers and are much more willing to go below what they normally would to get to their goal.


To take this to the extreme, wait until December. Nobody buys a car at christmas. I walked into the Subaru dealership in 2003 and in five minutes had agreed on a deal for $1000 below invoice (there was a factory rebate I knew about). I will pretty well always buy a car at Christmas now.
03/23/2008 12:57:52 AM · #6
Walk in to the dealership and look at the sales associate of the month, quarter, year awards on the wall; don't ask for him or her. Get a sales associate that needs a sale, they are willing [if possible]to reduce their commission to make a sale.

Message edited by author 2008-03-23 00:59:51.
03/23/2008 01:08:06 AM · #7
Have you driven an FJ?

I only ask because I thought they looked great, but it wasn't until I drove one that I discovered they have terrible visibility. The windows in the back are almost useless and the front pillars are so big they have a huge blindspot. Felt like I was driving around looking through a gunner's slit in a pillbox.

Other than that, it was great.

As far as negotiating, the best is to know what the dealer paid for the car. Unless it's a high-demand vehicle, they are not going to get sticker price for the car.

I prefer to buy slightly used cars, maybe a year or two old that have an average of less than 10K miles/year. You get a car that's new enough, still has most of the latest doodads, is still under warranty and costs a lot less than new.
03/23/2008 01:15:48 AM · #8
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

Have you driven an FJ?

I only ask because I thought they looked great, but it wasn't until I drove one that I discovered they have terrible visibility. The windows in the back are almost useless and the front pillars are so big they have a huge blindspot. Felt like I was driving around looking through a gunner's slit in a pillbox.


The deal breaker for me in buying the FJ would be that blindspot in the rear.
03/23/2008 01:26:26 AM · #9
Thanks! Really appreciate the input!
03/23/2008 01:36:54 AM · #10
Originally posted by faidoi:

Originally posted by Spazmo99:

Have you driven an FJ?

I only ask because I thought they looked great, but it wasn't until I drove one that I discovered they have terrible visibility. The windows in the back are almost useless and the front pillars are so big they have a huge blindspot. Felt like I was driving around looking through a gunner's slit in a pillbox.


The deal breaker for me in buying the FJ would be that blindspot in the rear.


I did test drive it and it went pretty smoothly. I also had reservations about the blind spot because I'd been reading reviews and a couple of owners had mentioned it. I'm planning to go to another dealership for another test drive, but as of this moment, I'm pretty sold. I'd been thinking about purchasing a new car for the past 3 years now--yeah, it takes me that long--and was going to stay with Nissan but the Nissan dealership really peeved me.
03/23/2008 03:34:03 AM · #11
Wait until the new model comes out then buy last year's model. Better price.
03/23/2008 05:39:12 AM · #12
inform yourself before getting in ... it really helps if you are "smarter" than salesman :-)

10 more days ---> //www.opel-europe.com/zafira/index.html
03/23/2008 05:51:40 AM · #13
This is a GREAT read. I stumbled upon it 5 years ago right before we bought our van.

//www.edmunds.com/advice/buying/articles/42962/article.html

Message edited by author 2008-03-23 05:56:07.
03/23/2008 08:17:55 AM · #14
1. Don't shower for a month before going to the dealership.
2. Don't change clothes for a month before going to the dealership.
3. Don't brush your teeth for a month before going to the dealership.
4. Stand very close to the salesperson throughout the dealings and talk close to their face.
5. Insist the salesperson comes with you for the test drive, and keep all the windows up and heat on.
6. Talk in a shrill, loud voice.

03/23/2008 08:32:49 AM · #15
But seriously...

I have a few different choices of models, based on all the specs I'm after, and go to a few different dealerships (not all owned by the same Leggat cartel here in Burlington). I test drive everything, as feel is important to me. The dealer gives me a price to work from. I let him know at the outset that I'm visiting different dealerships, and encourage them to give me their best price, and if the price and car is right, I'll be back, otherwise, not. This is a full day process! This summer we got a new car, but test drove six different cars, two each at three different dealerships which weren't affiliated with each other.

We left the major back-n-forth for our first choice, which we ended up buying. But were ready to leave and go to choice #2 if the deal wasn't good enough. I like to be honest & up front with the salesperson about this, just so the slimey bastard gets a taste of real honesty at least once in his/her life.
03/23/2008 11:52:15 AM · #16
I swear by the Lemon-Aid guide. Most libraries have them as do bookstores. They cover new and used vehicles of all makes/models years and are dead honest.

Good luck!
03/23/2008 12:09:38 PM · #17
Like the others in this thread, I also suggest that advance knowledge is the best way to your best deal.
Know in advance about financing, insurance, price margins.

Then, try not to get 'emotional' about a car. you're at a disadvantage if you've just got to have "that" model in "that" shade of red.

Another hint - and I'm serious - take a book, a crossword puzzle, or some other time-killing device for when the salesperson goes away to talk to the sales manager about the arranged price. If you show you don't care how long it takes for them to meet your offer, it's a slight edge.

Finally, at the end of the day, when the haggling has been long and tough, you're tired, and it's time to sign the papers, you just may be offered a special "one time only" deal on - oh, say - extended warranty, or who knows what widget. Just say no.

(When I bought my last car, they got me on the last one, until I read the fine print and took advantage of the five day cooling off period to "Just say no.")

Good luck, and may your new car last a loooong time.
03/23/2008 12:29:53 PM · #18
My advice is don't go into a dealer to try and buy a car. Go in to test drive a car after you have narrowed down your choices doing the research people here suggested. Once you are set on a car and the options buy it in one of two ways.

First if you have a Costco use it. You will not get the absolute cheapest price but you will get a good price with no haggling.

Second, if no Costco, send an e-mail to each dealer internet contact in your area (all dealers have them now). Describe the exact car you want and ask for their internet price. Pick the best deal and then assure they agree to the final terms before going into the dealer to sign the paperwork. Most dealers have this no haggle system now.

Finally, do not trade in a car. Trades are what mess up deals and where they try to make the money back they gave up in the deal. Sell it your self.

BTW - I have purchased cars with both these methods and each time I have spent less than an hour at the dealer to finalize the deal. I can't stand that back and forth waiting game they play so I switched to this some time ago.

Hope that helps.

Message edited by author 2008-03-23 18:27:37.
03/23/2008 02:26:47 PM · #19
Originally posted by sfalice:



Another hint - and I'm serious - take a book, a crossword puzzle, or some other time-killing device for when the salesperson goes away to talk to the sales manager about the arranged price. If you show you don't care how long it takes for them to meet your offer, it's a slight edge.


I usually set a time limit of how long I'm willing to wait for them to let me "cook". Something around 10-15 minutes. After that, I get up and start walking, in a meandering way, towards my car. Inevitably, the dealer will come running out, curious about where I'm going. My reply? "Oh, I thought you forgot about me, I was getting ready to go over to XXXX (where XXXX is the name of their competitor across town). That lets them know you aren't going to put up with their BS and they are endangering their chance at your business.

With the possible exception of the first few minutes, the dealer and the manager are NOT discussing your offer, they're making you wait, hoping to increase your anxiety level that they may not accept your offer.

It's also OK to trade in a car, but don't tell them until AFTER you have a price for the new vehicle. You should also know what your trade in is worth as a trade in. Keep in mind too that you will not get as much on a trade in as you would selling as a private party since the dealer will have additional expenses to get your vehicle ready to sell.
03/23/2008 02:40:56 PM · #20
Buying a car is a game - one that the dealership is expert at. Some play games, some are more humane, as in normal. Generally large dealerships are the kings of gamesmanship (it's how they got so big) but near the end of the month you can often get a better deal here than at a small dealership that (might) have ethics.

Edmunds.com and other sources will give you an idea of the cost of the car to the dealership. Yes, there is a holdback and ad allowances and the like built into the 'invoice' - but hey, they ARE allowed to make a buck ya know! Just not too many of them ;P

You will get a better deal: if you can buy cash and have no trade. That means go to your bank or a credit union and get a loan before you go shopping. If you have poor credit or Toyota is offering some 0% deal then consider buying thru the dealer financing- but they can makeup numbers like you wouldn't believe and it can be hard if not impossible to know what you're actually paying for the car. If they do the financing they make more money - so IMO you should get a better deal.

Here is why they play with the numbers... They can show the new car at full sticker, say $35,000. They can show a full retail for your trade, say $6000. The net is $29,000, and that's what you pay tax on and the loan on... but you could walk in with cash and pay them 29,000. You could probably walk in with cash and take wholesale for you car (auction price) of $2500 and still pay $29,000!

A good deal is $300-600 over dealer invoice. Unless it's a hot model and at least around here FJs aren't in demand.

Watch out for high profit margin come ones - fabric, paint, undercoating, etc. Extended warranties can be good or bad - you choice, but they are a profit item for the dealership, and the price IS negotiable, so if you want one ask how much it is, say that's too much no thanks, and at the very end of things offer them $200 less and see if THEY go for it!

Some dealerships play hardball - they'll want to see your trade and will take your keys and registration and hold them...sometimes you have to call the cops to get them to give it back! So beware. Check autotrader.com for what your old car is selling for -retail anyway. The dealer will pay $1,000 to $2,000 less than that depending on what it is, condition, mileage, what they have to spend to get it saleable, etc. So don't be insulted if they offer you some lowball number on your trade. Just tell them "Well, if you offering me wholesale, then lets talk wholesale on the FJ"

Check on the internet - you often get dealers to bid and you then take the lowest price and go the second lowest cost dealer and show them offer 1, and ask if they can beat it! If the dealer has the exact car you want on their lot you'll get a better price than if they have to trade with some other dealer to get it.

have fun!
03/23/2008 02:55:46 PM · #21
My advice would be:

1. Test Drive a few cars (don't buy any of the cars you test drive yet, the salesman is going to want to talk business with you, just say NO)
2. Figure out which car YOU want.
3. Figure out which options you want on the car
4. Get a benchmark price for your car on www.carsdirect.com (for example: $29,800)
5. Now add in what your taxes and vehicle license fees will be in your state (it's about 10% here in California i.e. $32,780)
6. CALL (don't visit in person) all of the dealerships within 100 miles of your home that sell the car you want. (get the person's name)
7. Tell them you want a quote for the best OUT THE DOOR price they can give you on THE car. (they sound like they want to be your friend, ignore that. They just want to screw you)
8. Tell them you already have a dealership willing to sell it you for $32,780 (example) OUT THE DOOR.
9. They will most likely beat that price. If they don't, move on to the next dealership.
10. Keep calling dealership after dealership and keep playing them against each other. For example, dealership # 2 says they can do it for $31,500 OUT THE DOOR, you call dealership # 3 and see if they can beat that price.
11. When you've called each dealership, start back over at dealership # 1 and talk to the same person you talked to before.
13. Eventually, you will have a price that no one else can beat.
14. Congratulations, you now have your best price.
15. Now, go to the lucky dealership, talk to your "Sales Person" (who you talked to on the phone).
16. You have the price they offered. If they waffle or try to change something, get up from the table and start to walk out the door.
17. Buy exactly the car you discussed for exactly the price you discussed and nothing more.
18. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT BUY THE CLEAR COAT, THE UPHOLSTERY PROTECTANT, OR THE EXTENDED WARRANTY. (unless your buying a crappy car, which I doubt)

Good luck. I have executed this plan on several occasions and it works great. Don't feel bad when the salesman says that he has to feed his kids.

Have fun. Invest your time (a couple of days). It will be rewarding.

03/23/2008 03:29:30 PM · #22
You have some good advice here. Just to pick some apart. Costco is just another broker, you pay them a fee. By pass this and work with the dealer. Cars sales have been dipping since the mortgage crunch started. The California market is way off. You should be able to get a fair price, just do your home work. No need to wait to the end of the month or new models. I haven't seen auto rates this low in several years. So financing is real good for highly qualified buyers. Get pre-approved at you Credit Union or Bank the dealer will try to beat your rate.
Believe it or not it's true that the salesman, deskman and finance people do have to put food on there tables as so do you. You get paid for your work, the car guys deserve to make a living too. (just not make there retirement off one sale).

I've been in the auto business now over 20yrs. 5yrs at the dealerships and 16yrs at a large National Bank as a credit manager. If you want to know if a rumor about the auto buz is true, just ask.....Lol
03/24/2008 01:27:50 AM · #23
Thanks for the input. Your suggestions have been really helpful. Luckily time is on my side so I don't have to buy right away and I am willing to walk away if I feel pressured. I will definitely try some of the tactics mentioned. Again, thanks for the suggestions!!! Muchly appreciated!
03/24/2008 06:00:55 AM · #24
We've just bought a new car. Ahh it's always a fun experience. The game is well known now, so I suspect everyone has their own rules and tricks. I am, of course, no exception. Other people have given you some good advice in this thread. Of course it can all go out the window if you get approached by a good salesman, their goal is to make you forget your set of rules.

So stay sharp :)

I found that it helped to play the dealers against each other. If you say you want the car in that dealership and nothing else, the guy knows he has a captive market. So do your research on the competitors for your car as well as the one you want. Say you've been to the competitor and have a good deal - either get one, or make one up - make sure it's a comparably priced car, obviously. Then your salesman instantly knows that he has to beat that deal, or you are walking out.

Next I'd agree about selling your existing car privately if you don't mind the hassle. My friend (who has also just got a new car) did this, and it left him in a much more flexible position for his new buy. He was able to just phone around some dealers with a price and see who came back with the best offer, playing off loads more than if he had to go in to each one and show the part-ex car, etc..

I'm not sure about the finance aspect. If you have the cash up front, great. Otherwise, yeah, you might be able to get a slightly better finance deal from a broker or similar, but if you go for the dealer finance, which may be a bit more expensive, you will generally be able to get a better up front deal, because they are making that money back later in interest. The difference may end up in your favour if you get a higher specced car that you can sell for more later on.

Lastly I'd say - make sure you know the car you want inside out. Use the internet to research your new car. Know what options you do and do not want. Know what the good and bad prices are so that you know if you are getting a good deal.
03/24/2008 08:39:18 AM · #25
The issue with dealer financing is they'll talk payment only - nothing else. "What can you afford?" $350! They will get up to $380 I guarantee it.
"C'mon, you like the red one, right? Are you gonna let $12 a month stand between you and teh car you've always wanted?"

Now about the warranty. It's a smart thing to have the extended warranty. And it's only $3/month - you can afford $3 a month, can't you? That's not even one Starbucks!

Before you know it you've agreed to buy the car and have no idea they added a year to the payments or padded the price or upped the rate. I sold cars. I know they do this. Beware.

Selling your old car is hassle. I did that last time and it took 10 months to sell the SOB out of my front yard. The economy has changed. I've sold 3 cars, a boat and a motorcycle in the past in my yard all in a month or less. And I sold it for 2/3 of what it was worth just to get it outta here. I should have traded it in. Depends on what your selling and where you are, and for how much. Most used car buyers will feel more comfortable buying from a dealer with a warranty, financing, etc.

Message edited by author 2008-03-24 08:41:00.
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